This is Jessamyn West's most eloquent book in some years with an authoritative sense of the time (1824) and the place (Indiana) as well as the actual episode on which this story is based (however sketchy the surviving records). It deals, very simply, with the killing of nine Indians -- men, women and children -- for which four men were tried while a ""long hunter,"" Jud Clasby, ""too tough for anything but true lead,"" who had wanted them ""cleared out,"" got away scot-free. This is the first time that one law for both whites and Indians was put into effect -- overlooking what the settlers had suffered at Indian hands, or the fact that they had been ""brought up to believe that killing an Indian served a better purpose than killing a deer."" Miss West's well-weathered sense of the period, as plain and sturdy as buckram, stiffens the fictional aspects of a story which has, of course, its modern intention. It also has the qualities Jessamyn West has retained through the years -- an open-faced sentiment and very available sympathy -- which assures a substantial readership at various levels.